Resource-rich Central Asia opens to the world

Dorian, James P.
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Honolulu: East-West Center
Among the many regions suddenly opened to the outside world with the end of the Cold War are the five nations of Central Asia-Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. These new nations, home to 50 million people on an area 40 percent of the size of the United States, are best known in the West as part of the ancient Silk Road trade route that connected the European, Islamic, and Asian civilizations. But beneath the steppes, deserts, and river valleys, abundant energy and mineral resources lie waiting for investment and development. While the potential is vast, pitfalls in exploiting these resources include inadequate transportation and communication, unstable governmental policies, and political and ethnic conflict including civil wars in Tajikistan and neighboring Afghanistan. Investors must scrutinize geologic and economic data, clarify the roles of partners and the policies of all governmental authorities, and keep a wary eye on environmental and ethnic problems.
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